OK, so sometimes I think I've single-handedly kept the technical book publishing industry afloat. Here's my take on what's worthwhile and what's not. Besides the summaries, as I get time, I'll be adding more in-depth reviews and copies of each book's table of contents to help you decide whether it might be useful to you.

Essential reading
These books are generally hard-core (most aren't for novices) and they generally aren't cheap, but they provide a good in-depth understanding of user experience design for working professionals.

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum
By Alan Cooper
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
A extremely good overview about why most high-tech products are so frustrating to use and the value of paying attention to user experience. It's perhaps best at dissecting the issues of corporate politics that user experience architects have to contend with. Cooper gives an overview of his extremely useful personas and scenaros technique but it's not covered in as much depth as it could be. more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Building Strong Brands
By David A. Aaker
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
Like information architecture, branding has had difficulties clearly defining itself. However, it's far more than just a catchy name and cool logo, branding is sum total of your customer's experience with your company. Needless to say, user experience is an important part of that equation, so user experience architects should be familiar with how they fit into the larger issue of branding. Aaker offers a good introduction for novices and experts alike.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Usability Engineering Lifecycle
By Deborah J. Mayhew
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
If you get only one hard-core book on user experience design, this is the one. Despite the title, it actually covers most of user experience design. While it trades breadth for depth, its one of the few books that acknowledges that not everyone has time to do things the "right" way, so it also covers how to scale-down methods, as well as how to substitute quick-and-dirty alternatives. And the author is actually willing to put some time estimates on how long particular steps may take. The main weakness is its failure to address issues of content, information architecture and visual design (the author does traditional software development), although at least the book acknowledges these may be important if you're doing web-related projects.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mastering the Requirements Process
By Suzanne Robertson & James Robertson
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
One of the most comprehensive book on developing requirements. While it's written from a software engineering perspective, it's goes far beyond technical requirements to consider issues of visual presentation, legal concerns and corporate politics (although it doesn't cover content at all, due to the authors' background). It's quite readable and never pendantic. The guts of the authors' philosophy is available online, but the book explains the thinking behind it in more detail and provides examples and a case study.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

User and Task Analysis for Interface Design
By JoAnn T. Hackos & Janice C. Redish
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
The key to starting the process of good user experience design is understanding the target audience and what they're trying to accomplish. This book's strong points are how think about breaking activities into specific tasks and how to go about observing and interviewing users, although the last section offers a good survey of techniques for moving from analysis design. It also has a good chapter on the all-too-often overlooked issue of how to provide documentation and training for users.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Contextual Design
By Hugh Beyer & Karen Holtzblatt
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
After you've interviewed users, Beyer and Holtzblatt show you how to turn the information into useful models to analyze the problems and come up with solutions. However, the techniques are geared toward large-scale business process re-engineering projects and typically need to be scaled back for most projects. Also Beyer and Holtzblatt are a bit weak on the process of coming up with a design.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Software for Use
By Larry L. Constantine & Lucy A.D. Lockwood
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
Often times densely written with some really confusing terminology, but packed with ideas that make it well worth wading through. Constantine and Lockwood have some powerful ways of modeling use cases and offers useful specific steps for moving from high-level design down to the design of individuals screens.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Infomation Architecture for the World Wide Web

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Designing Visual Interfaces
By Kevin Mullett & Darrell Sano
Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
One of the few books on user interface design that explicitly draws on the visual design principles that artists and graphic designers have spent centuries beta testing. While its UI examples are all traditional software (other examples range from currency design to the famous map of the London Underground), it's a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the principles behind good UI design, although it's a bit short for the price.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Havard Business Review
Formerly a collection of deadly dull academic papers. But no more. Since being overhauled a year or two ago, it's a valuable collection of thoughtful and well-written white papers. And interestingly, the each issues I've seen so far has had articles touching on user experience (even if they're not labeled as such). But more importantly, HBR offers a good way to keep up on current trends in business thinking (helpful if you've got to sell UX to managers or clients), as well as a good way to learn more about management skills and general business skills. No it's not cheap, but it's definitely worthwhile.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And many more to come…

powered by greymatter

Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved.
Any problems with the site?

Note: This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.